ep. 37 | Intimacy with God with Kim Vollendorf
On this episode of the Journeywomen podcast, I chatted with Kim Vollendorf about intimacy with God. This is the first of five episodes that we’re releasing on the topic of relationships, just in time for February, the all-too-anticipated month of love, which, can we all just be honest with ourselves and admit that we long to experience?
Standing at six-foot-one, Kim Vollendorf is literally a big sis to younger women. For over thirty years, she has served with the campus ministry, Student Mobilization. She is a wife and mom now, but she is well acquainted with being single. She enjoys a nice cup of tea, a good read, a hearty laugh, and a well-organized closet. She and her husband, Sean, have three teenage sons. In her recent book Loving Your Husband Before You Even Have One she shares the lessons she learned as a single woman which have really paid off in marriage.
Today Kim and I discussed the foundation for true, selfless love, which is intimacy with God. Intimacy, or into-me-you-see, is a thread that weaves its way through each of the conversations we’re releasing on the topic of relationships, but it’s worth noting that this thread existed before humanity ever came into being, as God Himself experienced intimacy with the persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The Trinity eternally existed in relationship. Meaning, God didn’t create humanity because He was lonely or in need because there is rich fellowship within the members of the Trinity. He made us in His image and after His likeness and because of that, we were created to be in intimate relationships too, just like Him. That’s why He said, “It is not good that man should be alone.”
So God created Eve, a helpmate for Adam, someone like him, someone with whom Adam would experience knowing and being known. But not long after Adam and Eve were created, something terrible happened to this divine image when they disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree. When they took and ate of the tree, the image of God in humans was twisted and damaged. We are still his image-bearers, but that image has been perverted throughout generations. We’re all longing for the image to be restored to its original beauty, but God intends to go beyond even what Adam and Eve experienced in the garden by conforming us into the image of Christ as we experience intimacy with Him.
There is nothing casual about the way in which God knows us. Scripture says that He has searched and known us, He knows when we sit and when we rise, He discerns our thoughts from afar. He searches out our path and our lying down; He is acquainted with all our ways. Even before a word is on our tongues He knows it. He knows all things, including absolutely everything about us. The reason He searches and knows us is because He loves us. So much so, that He sent His Son down to earth to die so that we could enter into relationship with Him, by the power of His Spirit, and once again experience intimacy with Him.
The cry of the human heart is to belong, to be loved, and to experience the ultimate intimacy that can only be found in relationship with God. By the power of the Spirit, our identification, our oneness, and our intimacy with Jesus conforms us into His image, which deepens and enriches our human relationships too! If we know that we’re loved by the Sovereign God, it frees us up to be open and intimate in our personal relationships as well. Today Kim and I talk about how we enter into relationship with God by the power of His Spirit, through relationship with His Son, and how knowing who God is actually cultivates intimacy with Him and with others. This is a huge topic and by no means is this conversation exhaustive, but we hope it will offer some practical tools to help you posture yourself towards intimacy with God.
I am inspired by Kim’s devotion to really knowing God through His Word. On a personal level, you may not go about this by creating a handy alphabet like Kim did, but I want to encourage you to invest time getting to know God through His Word, whatever that looks like for you. Last week’s episode, Biblical Literacy for Women with Kristin Schmucker, is another great resource for learning how to do that!
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
Before we get any further, do you have a basic definition for intimacy so that we’re all on the same page? What is intimacy?
Do we all desire intimacy? Where do we see our longing for it most prevalently? What does this longing point us towards?
How has God already gone before us in building the bridge for intimacy? How does the Gospel enable us to grow in intimacy with Jesus and with others?
Why is intimacy important, particularly with Jesus? How about with others, like our spouse or our friends?
Practically speaking, how can we build intimacy with God? How can we build intimacy within our relationships?
What are some things we might see in ourselves if we aren’t experiencing intimacy with Jesus? What’s the downfall in neglecting our relationship with him? What about with other people?
Where do we get these inaccurate thoughts about God?
How do you build accurate thoughts about God?
If you had to offer a goal or purpose for building intimate relationships with God and with others, what would it be? What’s the goal of intimate relationships?
THREE QUESTIONS I ASK EVERY GUEST
- What 3 resources would you recommend for someone who desires to grow in this area?
- What are 3 of your simple joys?
- Who has had the biggest influence on your own journey with Jesus?
“Usually when anyone hears the word ‘intimacy’ our first thought is sex...but intimacy is a lot more than that, it’s much deeper. It’s actually about knowing and being known in a special way.”
“How can a woman experience intimacy with God, whom she can neither see nor touch, to a depth that exceeds what she can experience with a man?...Intimacy is much more than the physical acts we share with someone. I think there’s a part of us that wants to share our mind, body, and soul with someone and we just really crave that deep connection.”
“I think people run toward relationships (with other humans) looking to find that intimacy. When they don’t find that intimacy they’re looking for, they think there’s a better guy out there that will fill that void.”
“I really think that it’s not a search for a him, it’s a search for Him. I think God has placed within us a desire for oneness and intimacy so that it would ultimately push us toward Him. There’s no person that can really meet that need to be known like He can.”
“We know from the Scriptures that God wants a relationship with us. He has gone to great extent and great sacrifice to clear the way for us to be forgiven of our sin, because sin is what breaks intimacy, even with people and with Him, He has gone to great extent to clear the way for us so that we can have a relationship with Him. That’s the beauty of the Gospel is that He provides this relationship that we don’t really deserve."
“The Scriptures also tell us in Psalm 139 how well God knows us. He was there while we were being formed in our mother’s womb, He knows our thoughts even before we speak them. He numbered our days. He knows us better than anyone else. Because of what Christ has done for us we can get to know Him as well. Because again, the Scriptures tell us that in John 1 that Jesus came to make God known to us. As we get to know Jesus, we get to see that He is the exact representation of God’s nature (Hebrews). And we have an opportunity to get to know the One who made us who knows us so deeply. That’s a beautiful intimacy that you’re not going to experience with a person.”
“Sometimes we think intimacy is going to be a feeling, but feelings are driven by our thoughts. So, our thoughts influence our feelings, which influences our actions. So it all goes back to what we think about. It’s really important for us, if we want to be intimate with God, that we have an accurate view of who He is. That’s absolutely critical.”
“As we sit through a sermon or do bible study or have our quiet time one of the questions I’m always asking is, ‘What is true about God from this passage?’ It’s amazing what pops off the page when you’re intentionally going in asking that question.”
Remembering the ABCs about God… “God is Able to do anything, He is Big and He Cares for you. He Destroyed death, He’s Eternal, He’s Faithful, He’s Good. He’s Holy, He’s the Great I AM. He’s Just, Kind, Loving, and Merciful. He’s Near to me. He’s my One and only, my Peace, my Protector, my Provider. He’s my shepherd who leads my by Quiet waters. He’s my Refuge, my Savior, and He tells me the Truth. He’s Unseen, but Vengeance will be His and so will Victory. He is Without equal. He has X-ray vision, He sees it all. He knows whY, and He never sleeps.”
“It doesn’t take much for me to forget who God is, but if I can remember my “ABC’s”, I get realigned once again.”
“I’m needy, and if I don’t have a go-to I’ll just go to a dark and dreary place in my mind. I feel like our enemy’s main attack is in our minds, he starts there and plants thoughts, ‘God’s not really good; God’s cheating you’ and we have to be able to fight that...in order to stay sane I have to remind myself continually of who Jesus is.”
Remembering the ABCs about YOUR identity… “I can Approach Him in confidence. I am Blameless. He takes Care of me. I am Dead to sin and have been given Eternal life. I’m Free from accusation. I have access to Grace. I have Hope. I am In His hand and safe. I am Justified, Known, Loved, and Made for a reason. He has Numbered my days. I am an Overcomer. I have Peace with God. He has Qualified me for an inheritance. He Rewards me. He Saved me and Shields me. He Thinks of me. I am Untouchable. My labor is not in Vain. I’m His Workmanship. I have Access to God (X). I have been forgiven of mY sins. I am a citiZen of heaven.”
“Even if you have one go to favorite verse to remind yourself and train your brain on the truths of who you are and who God is, those thoughts will feed your feelings and you are going to feel closer to God when those truths sink in.”
“The women who invested in me early on really emphasized being authentic before God and not faking it. I just feel the freedom to be very honest about my feelings and I see that in the Psalms. David was very honest, angry, frustrated, disappointed, joyful and excited, so I feel the freedom to be those things with God too. I don’t put on this spiritual mask to talk to God...I’m very honest.”
“It’s the people who know you and who’ve seen you at your worst but still love you that you’re drawn to, and it’s the same way with God! Despite this ongoing struggle or ugliness in heart or sin, He’s still pursuing a relationship with you. And that changes you.”
“A lot of us drift away from God when we feel like He doesn’t like us or is disappointed with us, but His favor surrounds us like a shield as believers. We can always go to Him.”
"When you’re experiencing intimacy with God it’s a relationship that you enjoy.”
"If we know God well, we’ll learn to love Him. If we love Him, it’s easier to trust Him. If we trust Him, we’re more willing to obey Him, and if we obey Him we’ll experience His best.”
Sex and the Single Girl by Dr. Juli Slattery (resources on intimacy from biblical perspective)
KIM’S SIMPLE JOY’S
Early morning Earl Grey tea and bible reading
Putting on a pair of jeans that are long enough for me (American Eagle!)
A well organized drawer
Connect with Kim
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